Combat sports suspended

December 15, 2017

Earlier in the semester I came up with a feature for the sports section called “Fight Corner.”

In one of these articles, I expressed how Edmonton’s fight community is thriving and will continue to thrive after the arrival of a UFC 215 here. The UFC hype, along with the talent in the city, made the future of the local fight community bright.

That seems to have been stalled as city council announced last week that there would be a ban on combative sports in Edmonton for 2018.

In the earlier article, I highlighted a former Edmonton Eskimo turned fighter, Adam Braidwood, a friend of Tim Hague, who was gravely injured during their boxing match on June 16.

Hague, a former teacher turned-MMA fighter/boxer was treated for a brain injury and later died.

City council instituted the suspension of events after hearing a third-party review into Hague’s death.

Since then, Braidwood has competed in three more fights, the last of which was Friday. Braidwood won all of these bouts. During the K.O. Boxing event, Edmonton fighter Jelena Mrdjenovich got in the ring and called out the city council’s decision.

Mitch Clarke, an Edmonton mixed martial artist, said he’s disappointed and a little bit angered by the decision, which he says will affect a lot of people unnecessarily.

“This decision could effectively kill (mixed martial arts) and combat sports in Edmonton,” he said in a recent CTV interview. “We used to be one of the biggest hubs for (mixed martial arts), for pro combat sports in the world besides Vegas and now it’s just gone down the tube,” he added.

Mayor Don Iveson told CTV that he “felt it was appropriate to pump the brakes on this industry and these events,” knowing that this may affect people’s livelihood.

MMA and boxing within Edmonton isn’t the only “combative sport” affected. Among the Fight Corner articles we’ve published in The Nugget, another sport highlighted is pro-wrestling. This sport is a combination of athletics and theatrical performance. Pro-wrestling also falls under the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission and therefore will also be impacted by the ban.

All physical sports have risks and there are regulating bodies in place to make sure that athletes can perform at a standard that will not put themselves or others in harm’s way. After Hague’s death, the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission commented on the many individuals involved.

“There are many people and organizations involved in putting on these complex events including promoters, referees, ringside judges, physicians, chief inspector, paymaster and the presiding inspectors assigned to the fight.”

Starting last Saturday, the city will stop issuing new licences or event permits for combative sports, either until Dec. 31, 2018 or until council decides, according to a press release.

The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission said they respect council’s right to enact the moratorium.

“We will continue our work as a commission, using this time to move forward with the comprehensive policy review that had already been underway.

“We will work with city administration to advise council on a future path at the end of the moratorium.”

– Tre Lopushinksky, Co-Sports Editor